Updated: Oct 19
To Celebrate International Pronouns Day, TJWW cofounders Gabrielle Claiborne (she/her) and Linda Herzer (she/her) share—from the perspectives of a transgender advocate and a cisgender ally—why it is good to introduce yourself with your pronouns.
First Three Reasons to Introduce Yourself with Your Pronouns
Gabrielle: When you introduce yourself with your pronouns, (1) you immediately signal to trans and gender expansive (TGX) people, like myself, that we can feel safe with you. As the world becomes increasingly contentious about the rights and even the basic humanity of TGX people, you have no idea what a relief it is to be cued, when we’re meeting you for the first time, that it is safe to be our authentic selves.
(2) If you are speaking at a public event, and you begin by introducing yourself with your pronouns, you immediately signal your personal commitment to inclusion to everyone in the room. And if your organization has inclusive language guidelines that encourage every speaker at the event to introduce themselves with their pronouns, then you send all your attendees a clear message about the inclusivity of your culture, and communicate to your gender diverse participants that we are welcome there.
(3) Through the simple act of using your pronouns, you communicate your understanding that pronouns are a privilege. While you may never have been misgendered, not all people are that fortunate. By introducing yourself with your pronouns, you create space for and normalize the experience of TGX people introducing ourselves with our pronouns. You use your privilege to once again, normalize our existence, and create a welcoming space for us to show up authentically.
More Good Reasons to Introduce Yourself with Your Pronouns
Linda: If you are a cisgender ally, like me, (4) another reason to introduce yourself with your pronouns is to rewire your own thinking about gender. I dare say that most of us grew up with the cultural assumption that gender = biological sex. But medical and mental health associations across the globe now recognize that gender is much more complex than this. Always introducing myself with my pronouns is one thing I do to remind myself of the complexity of gender and thus rewire my thinking about gender. Personally, I’ve found that the more rewiring I do, the less likely I am to disrespect people by misgendering them and the more likely I am to create inclusive spaces by using gender-neutral language.
(5) A fifth good reason to introduce yourself with your pronouns is because it can create educational moments. Sometimes cisgender folks will ask me why I’m introducing myself with my pronouns. When this happens, I tell them it’s because I’ve learned that gender is a whole lot more diverse and complex than I grew up understanding it to be. Consequently, I can no longer accurately assume a person’s gender or pronouns from the way they look or sound. By being proactive in sharing my pronouns, I provide an invitation for the person to whom I’m introducing myself to also share their pronouns so I don’t accidentally misgender them. Such a response helps educate the person who asked the question about the diversity of gender.
To learn more reasons to introduce yourself with your pronouns, check out this new video created by the OUT Georgia Business Alliance and featured on their homepage. The video is voiced by Gabrielle Claiborne and Andi Monroe (they/them) and animated by Maite Nazari (they/them/elle).